The saga of the 1942 Packard 180 Darrin Victoria actually started in 1923 when two WWI GIs, Howard “Dutch” Darrin and Thomas L. Hibbard returned to Paris, France to form a coach building business. The stock market crash of 1929 resulted in the closure of their shop. Darrin, quickly rebounded by forming a new partnership, named Fernandez and Darrin.
By 1937 Darrin realized that the market for custom coachbuilt bodies was shrinking causing him to close his Paris
business and return to America where he settled in Hollywood. There the wealthy and eclectic movie colony would provide a market for his coach built cars.
Once in Hollywood, Darrin converted Packard 120 chassis into sleek two door convertible coupes that were extremely popular with the Hollywood elite. Darrin quickly realized that his Hollywood shop was too small to keep up with demand. He contracted with Central Manufacturing Company for the production of his exotic convertible coupes. Central Manufacturing has been the body builder for the now defunct Auburn Automobile Company and had entered into a large contract to build Jeeps forcing Darrin to again move his production to the Hess and Eisenhart shop in Cincinnati. There Darrin bodied cars were manufactured until February 1942 when all civilian automobile manufacturing was suspended.
In 1939 Packard designers took notice of Darrin’s work and commissioned him to design a new car that would compete with the best that General Motors had to offer. The Packard Clipper was the result of this effort. However, the cars that Darrin himself designed and built were two door Victoria convertible coupes on 1940-1942 Packard 180 chassis.
Production of 1942 Darrin Victoria Convertibles was limited to 14 units. The example on display represents one of these automobiles. A Darrin Convertible Victoria is easily recognizable by its eye-catching swept-down signature “Darrin-dip” doors and elegant styling.
A base price of $4,595.00 limited sales to only the very wealthy. The car on display was first seen by Peter Jacovina who in 1942 was parking cars at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. Seventeen years later in 1959, Mr. Jacovina acquired the car after spotting it in San Francisco, ultimately selling it in 1995.